Summer vacations have greatly slowed my ability to string together enough sentences to form a post for My Porch. However, I didn't want to leave my millions of readers hanging out with nothing to read.
One of our destinations this summer was Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, England (shown at left in this lovely picture from the National Trust's website). Like the US in recent days, England was experiencing very hot weather and greater London was going through a drought.
It makes me anxious.
I will not hazard a guess as to whether or not this recent weather is a part of global climate change. Regardless, it does remind me that global warming is a real problem, and though it may not be frying our bacon today, it will at some point. Once this particular closet of anxieties is open, my environmental nightmares pour out. So many things to worry about with little hope in sight.
One of my more vivid nightmares is about water shortages and the damage we are doing to the earth's potable water. What about the millions of people who have chosen to live in deserts where there is no reasonable local water supply? In some future crisis will the electoral power of these burgeoning population centers overwhelm their less powerful neighbors upstream, commandeering billions of gallons of water just so some snowbird in Phoenix can have a patch of green lawn? Will agricultural and industrial uses in the Plains states overwhelm the recharge capacity of the gigantic Ogallala Aquifer? The rate of water extraction already outpaces the rate of recharge. Will freshwater sources in Hawaii continue to become brackish as seawater infiltrates aquifers due to the ever decreasing water table?
It all makes my head hurt.
Perhaps all this anxiety is what prompted me to plan vacations this summer along the northern California and Oregon coasts as well as plopping down on an islan
Like Walt Whitman, I hear America singing. On this Independence Day I honor our great nation. But you see, I believe in Walt Whitman’s America, not George Bush’s. Like Whitman I believe in the limitless possibilities of America and the profound value of all those who call America home.
Walt Whitman believed in the strength of the Union. George Bush divides us for his own political gain.
Walt Whitman stood awed before the vast frontiers of science and technology and the good they could bring. George Bush subverts science in favor of his personal religious and economic dogma.
Walt Whitman celebrated the laborers who are ceaselessly building and re-building our nation. George Bush dishonors the laborers, undermining their ability to make a living and care for their families.
Walt Whitman believed in the value of each individual’s point of view. George Bush sees no value in any point of view that is not his own.
Walt Whitman believed in democracy and the institutions upon which our nation was formed. George Bush has spent six years attempting to dismantle that which has served our nation so well for 230 years.
This is not a screed against conservative policies. Although I may not agree, I can respect opposing points of view. What I can’t respect is a President and a Congress that have allowed that which is most sacred and that which is most hopeful about America to be desecrated and discarded. The same people who worry about a burning flag, but think nothing of trampling on the very freedoms that the flag is meant to symbolize. It is hard to shake the feeling that the best of America has been left behind and forgotten.
Mr. Bush has done his best to make us forget that we as Americans are each part of a larger idea—an idea that thrives on the best of our individuality. He would like us to think that the larger idea of America is to spread democracy around the world through the use of force while he subverts democracy at home at every turn. In the process he forgets about the problems and promise of our citizens, and sullies our good name around the world.
Still, as I reflect this Independence Day I can’t help but be hopeful. We are, after all, witnessing the final throes of this Administration as January 20, 2009 draws ever closer. Until then I will strive to keep the essence of America and the promise of a Whitmanesque future in my heart.
O America because you build for mankind I build for you. O well-beloved stone-cutters, I lead them who plan with decision and science, Lead the present with friendly hand toward the future.
(Bravas to all impulses sending sane children to the next age! But damn that which spends itself with no thought of the stain, pains, dismay, feebleness, it is bequeathing.)